I decided to stretch my creative wings today and give FIMO clay a try. I’ve never worked with modeling clay before, but thought I’d start with this FIMO bookmark set I picked up at Michaels. When I opened the box and dumped out the contents on my counter, I was actually surprised at what little it contained. The directions, although great for the visual learner, contained absolutely no text! From the illustrations, I could see that I needed to roll the clay, but to what thickness and dimension? It also shows supplies that were not included in the kit, such as glue, a special leather puncher, and acrylic rolling pin.
I took to Google and searched for the FIMO bookmark set and found a step-by-step tutorial directly from Staedtler, the maker of FIMO. The video was helpful in showing the process, especially when it came to blending and folding the colors to create an ombre effect. However, it still lacked detailed directions.
I started by conditioning the white and pink clay. This process basically involves rolling it or kneading it with your fingers. I didn’t have an acrylic roller typically used for modeling clay, so I improvised with a glass jar I salvaged from the recycling bin. You want something that won’t stick to the clay. Perhaps because it’s winter here in Minnesota and our home is on the cooler side, but I found the clay tough to work with! I tried warming it up by placing it on the floor next to a heat register. I also sat on the package of clay for a while, and that did help a little. If you can leave it in a sunny spot for 10-15 minutes, that might work well too.
Once my clay was rolled out, I made sure it was big enough to fit the bookmark template. The bookmark template is printed on the instructions. You can also scan the QR code or go to the website to print out two additional bookmark shapes. I wasn’t very happy with my attempt at creating the ombre effect, so I decided to cut out hearts with the leftover clay to make ribbon bookmarks.
My ombre skills improved with the pink and black clay. If you watch the video, pay attention to how you place the clay side by side, and the diagonal line it creates. The line where my two colors joined in the pink and white clay was too vertical, so the ombre wasn’t as pronounced.
After you have all four blocks of clay rolled out, place the bookmark and tassel templates on top to make sure you have enough clay for at least three bookmarks. Make sure to roll it to the recommended 1/16”, otherwise your bookmark will be too thick – trust me, mine were too thick. FIMO doesn’t really shrink when you bake it.
If you want to stamp a design or imprint words on your bookmark, you would do that before you bake it. You can find some interesting textures in household items around you. A textured bottle, lace, or etching with a toothpick would all create some neat looks. If you wanted to create the terrazzo look (bits of different colors pressed into the bookmark), you would place them on top of your clay and smooth it over with a rolling pin.
Bake the bookmarks at the recommended 265-degrees for 30 minutes. It’s suggested to bake your creations on aluminum foil, cardstock, or even a ceramic tile. I used parchment paper and ended up with some wonky lines on the bottom as the paper curled. After you take your bookmarks out of the oven, let them cool down fully. The cooling is part of the curing and hardening process.
After your bookmarks are cooled, you can cut out your bookmarks and tassels with scissors or an exacto knife. Since I didn’t roll my clay out thin enough, I decided to skip the tassels since it was impossible to cut the fringe and roll it into shape. If you don’t have a leather punch tool to create the little hole at the top of the bookmark, you can use a nail to make a hole. You could also make a hole before you bake the bookmark. Attach the tassel, and you are finished!
FIMO Bookmark Instructions:
1. Condition the clay by rolling it between your hands. This will help soften and warm the clay. Use a nonstick rolling pin to flatten and smooth out the edges.
2. Take two different colors of clay that you want to use to create the ombre effect.
3. Roll each color into a teardrop shape, and place side by side, but with opposite ends next to each other (sort of like the yin-yang symbol).
4. Roll out the two colors and then fold it in half by folding the colors onto themselves – the ombre effect should happen where you joined the two colors due to the teardrop shape (it should create a slight diagonal line).
5. Keep folding and rolling the clay until the thickness measures 1/16”.
6. Cut out the paper template that is imprinted on the directions that came in the box. There are also two other templates you can find if you scan the QR code or visit the Staedtler website. You won’t be cutting the bookmarks out of the clay until after you bake it. Just place the template over your clay to ensure you have enough clay allocated for each bookmark. You should have enough clay to make at least 3 bookmarks. Each bookmark will also require 1 tassel, and 1 narrow piece that serves as a cord.
7. Use your imagination to create the terrazzo pattern on the bookmark. You’re basically tearing little bits and pieces of different colored clay and rolling it into the bookmark.
8. Bake the clay in the oven at 265-degrees for 30 minutes.
9. When the clay has cooled, you can trace and cut out your bookmark and tassel pieces.
10. Punch a hole through the top of the bookmark with a leather punching tool. If you don’t have one, you can use a straw or screw and poke a hole in the clay before you bake it.
10. Loop the cord onto the bookmark and glue the tassel onto the end.
– Use a smooth, clean flat work surface. Many people use a piece of ceramic tile or even glass from a picture frame. I used parchment paper, but found that it curled when I baked the clay, which resulted in wavy marks on the bottom of my pieces.
– Work with light colors first, as darker colors may stain and transfer from your hands and tools onto your lighter colors.
– Warming your clay before conditioning it will help a lot.
– Condition the clay until the edges of the clay no longer crack when you roll it.
– Use an exacto knife or another sharp cutting tool to help clean up the edges of your designs before you bake them.
After trying out this bookmark kit, I feel I have a better sense of how FIMO feels and work. There’s certainly a lot you can do with it, and I’ve already got some ideas for future projects! Do you have any tips or tricks for people working with polymer clays for the first time? What things have you made with it?